Interview: Magic 2014 shuffles the deck this summer with Sealed Play, Slivers
The shockingly popular Magic: The Gathering card game returns to gaming devices everywhere this summer with Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers. Coming to PC, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, iPad and Android, the annually-revived series stays fresh by refreshing the card base and introducing new gameplay mechanics. For the first time, a Duels release will feature a Sealed Play mode (where players must craft a winning deck using a randomized assortment of cards). Additionally, Magic 2014 will welcome aboard one of Magic’s most nefarious critters: Slivers.
We talked to Wizards of the Coast Brand Manager Adam Dixon about Magic 2014, for a taste of what Planeswalkers can expect when the digital cards hit the virtual table.
GGS: Whenever a franchise hits the “yearly installment” label, people start looking for what’s new. Obviously Magic: The Gathering survives and thrives by adding new cards every year, but for the new Duels, you’ve added Sealed Play. For new players, the point of Sealed Play is that all participants have, more or less, access to the same limited pool of cards. It levels the playing field, rather than in usual games where players have thousands of cards to choose in honing their decks. How will Sealed Play work in digital Duels?
DIXON: In this new gameplay mode, players will be able to open six 14 card boosters and build a 40-card deck that they can use in a Sealed Play campaign or for PVP. In Sealed Play players will build decks from a set of around 151 cards and will be able to specify the land in their deck; adding and removing land at their discretion. The PvE experience includes a six-deck ladder where players take on mono-colored Sealed decks each corresponding with a particular Planeswalker, and finally facing a ‘boss’ Sealed deck.
GGS: And Slivers? We get Slivers now? (Slivers have been part of Magic: The Gathering off and on since 1997. They are a sinister little creature type that duplicate each others’ abilities, growing stronger as more Slivers enter the battlefield.) What’s your favorite card combo using only cards that will be available in the new Duels?
DIXON: Slivers are one of Magic’s most popular mechanics! Unfortunately, revealing what my favorite card combo is would be mean revealing certain cards that aren’t public yet.
However, we have revealed some of the Sliver cards that will be in Magic 2014!
− Sliver Construct
− Predatory Sliver
− Groundshaker Sliver
− Megantic Sliver
− Blur Sliver
− Striking Sliver
− Thorncaster Sliver
− Battle Sliver
− Sentinel Sliver
− Bonescythe Sliver
GGS: How do you plan to keep returning players interested, so they don’t just figure 2014 will be more of the same from last year?
DIXON: We have not announced any plans for digital games beyond Magic 2014. However, with Magic we visit a new plane of the Multiverse each fall. Within those planes players get to explore cards, with new artwork and new mechanics that enrich the Magic landscape and keep it exciting to players. In our digital games you get a similar evolving story and strategic experience that you do when you play Magic face-to-face, so the game stays compelling to players with each iteration.
GGS: What can we expect from the story, both in Duels and in the physical Core card release?
DIXON: Story will play a much larger role in Magic 2014 than what you saw in previous versions of the game. Players will be able to join the Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar on a quest for revenge as they travel to different planes of the Multiverse in an effort to track down a dangerous and manipulative Planeswalker foe named Ramaz. The story will be told through cinematics, as well as voiceover and text and players will get to see elements of the storyline carry through into the Magic 2014 Core Set releasing this summer.
GGS: Will Duels continue the series’ “bonus” to score actual card packs with exclusive cards in them? And will the card packs continue to be specific to console versions? I noticed some minor grumbling from fans when they saw that the PS3 free card was better than the iOS free card (or whatever, “better” being a relative term… many MtG players are collectors, so just knowing that there’s rare promo cards to collect sets fevers high!) Also, will there be more starter sets based on digital decks? (That was pretty slick, being able to buy physical decks based on the decks I preferred to play in Duels!)
DIXON: This year we will be offering the promo booster promotion for Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers. Purchasers of Magic 2014 will be able to redeem a voucher at their local game shop for a platform specific 6-card booster featuring an alternate-art premium promo card.
Magic 2014 Core Set Intro Packs will feature face cards from the Magic 2014 game. Also, players of Magic 2014 will be able to preview a good amount of cards from the upcoming Magic 2014 Core Set before those cards are available for face-to-face play.
GGS: For me, the touchscreen iPad version was far and away the better experience due to the natural interaction with the cards/tabletop. Will the interface remain more or less the same for Xbox/PS3 versions? Going back to shoulder buttons and joysticks seems so clunky after playing on iOS! What about Vita or Wii U… is the team considering bringing Duels to those systems?
DIXON: The gameplay will be virtually identical across all platforms, however, as you note, there will be differences in the way you interface with the game. We are pleased to announce that Magic will be available for the very first time for Android tablet with the release of Magic 2014. We have not announced any other platform plans at this time.
GGS: Any chance you can tease us with the Duels 2014/Core 2014 standout card (or character, or ability)? What’s the card that players will be praying to find in their boosters?
DIXON: Sorry, I can’t give you any spoilers but fans will see plenty of standout cards in Magic 2014!